Whether the price of diesel fuel has an impact on the retail demand for diesel-pusher motorhomes will get a real-world test because the national average price for diesel fuel reached an all-time record high of $1.74 a gallon on Friday (Feb. 15), according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
A month ago, diesel fuel cost an average $1.535 a gallon nationwide and a year-ago, it cost $1.221, according to AAA, which provides daily fuel price updates on its website, www.fuelgaugereport.com
The $1.74 a gallon average, which is not adjusted for inflation, is the highest price for diesel fuel recorded since the AAA began gathering price data in the era of oil embargoes in the 1970s, according to the association.
Two key RV states, California and Florida, had average diesel fuel prices that were significantly higher than the national average as of Friday, AAA reports. Diesel fuel cost an average of $1.861 a gallon in California and it cost $1.825 in Florida.
In the New England and Mid-Atlantic states, where the natural gas distribution infrastructure is not as highly developed, which means more refined oil is used for home heating, average diesel-fuel prices were well above $1.80 a gallon, according to AAA data, which is supplied the OPIS Energy Group and Wright Express LLC.
The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline was $1.655 a gallon as of Friday, still below the all-time record of $1.718 set on May 15, 2001.
Hawaii had the highest average price for self-serve unleaded regular gas as of Friday, $1.886 a gallon. California was second at $1.863 a gallon.
In Florida, the price of self-serve unleaded regular gas was slightly above the national average at $1.686 a gallon as of Friday.
AAA’s sources gather their gas and diesel-fuel price data based on credit-card swipes at about 60,000 self-serve stations nationwide.
Last week, AAA urged consumers to “aggressively shop for gasoline bargains” because it did not believe the current international political turmoil, cold weather or the fear of terrorism justified the sharp price increases that occurred during the last few weeks.
According to conventional wisdom, gasoline and diesel prices do not directly impact the demand for RVs, although sharp increases in gas and diesel prices have been known to lower consumer confidence and discourage RV purchases.
Because diesel-pusher motorhome retail prices begin at around $125,000, it is generally believed that that sector of the RV market is the most resistant to any negative impact from higher fuel prices.